Monday, December 5, 2016

Throw 'Em Under The Bus

Our City founders touted control of zoning and development as a cornerstone of the City in contrast to what many perceived as neglect and exploitation of North DeKalb and Dunwoody by the County and its Development Authority. Many assumed the new City would put the brakes on "out of control development" and may feel betrayed seeing the City promote faster, bigger development.  

Some are wondering how this could happen. Like all things strange in government it starts and ends with money.

The City's revenue side of the equation drives expansion in scope and scale of development and is based on a little known City tax: the occupational tax. This is paid by employers for the pleasure of cutting paychecks and includes a fixed per-employee fee and a percent of gross. That it is not paid by developers but by their tenants is a further incentive to go big or go home. This occupational tax is also why we constantly hear about "high paying white collar jobs"-not because the women are pretty or the men buff but because more jobs at higher pay funnels more money into City coffers.

In terms of throwing money to the developers the City is giving up their portion of property tax but the big lever is the DeKalb County School property tax that this scheme allows the City to offer up. As any supporter of Dunwoody's recent tax hike will explain the school tax is the vast majority of any property tax bill so this is not chump change, it just comes out of others' pockets with their knowledge but without their permission. Even if Dunwoody gets its own schools the pilfering will continue with the City de-funding these new schools just as they are doing to our schools today.

City founders put in place a complex machine operated by mayors and councils that drains money from our children's education for the sake of more money under City control. Perhaps it is easier for the City to rob Peter to pay Judas when they are angry with Peter and sleeping with Judas but while you graze in front of "Everything Will Be OK" they are selling your lambs for a few pieces of silver.